China Diary

Day 24: Neighbourhood Watch

I’ve really been stuck into this little area of mine, like never before. Usually, when I’m abroad working I do get around the city at least a bit, trying to find fun things to do or just rolling around for fun, but here, I’ve locked myself between my apartment and my office quite tightly.

There are few reasons, I figured out the other day: first, the language. Wherever I go, I won’t get along with anyone. Thus, it’s always a bit of a problem if anything goes wrong, or anything happens that I need, most likely there’s nobody around who has any English skills whatsoever. The other is, this is a huge city: I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s easier to just stay home, because going wandering around is like going wandering around in some Los Angeles area: unless you know what you’re looking for, most likely you won’t find anything. Third, of course, is the traffic. I could get a cab, but I don’t want to sit in a traffic for an hour. So, it’s just simply much more easier to stay in my neighborhood, and since there’s really nothing interesting going on around, I’d rather stay home, maybe go to gym, watch a movie or play some Skyrim.

But, although that’s kinda nice, I’m not very good at that kind of loitering around. I’ve always found doing nothing really disturbing thought. In the beginning of the stint here in Beijing, my days were so fully packed that there was absolutely nothing else to do than work and crash home and sleep. But now, things have slowed down a bit. Every department is crunching their work and my input is right now needed not that very much. So I have some free time off.

On Monday, I started to feel restless so I took my board and went cruising downtown. The streets here are wide and safe, thanks to ample bike lanes. The weather was sunny and warm, although the chill of the autumn can be felt especially during the evenings. I picked a Mexican to go for a dinner, kicked my way over there only to find it was closed, so I started to wander around the neighbourhood. Suddenly, I bumped into a German biergarten. A proper one, not a Chinese remake, but one that serves the right stuff, the right kind of beer and even plays the right (or wrong) kind of horrible German schlagers.

There were no westerners there, so I decided to change my dinner plans from Mexican to Sauerkraut. I wasn’t disappointed: the meat could’ve been a bit less dry, but other than that, the dish was spot on. One huge Franziskaner Weissbier I continued my journey through the area which turned out to be the other end of the embassy district. Police vans stand in the corner, guards march to show their presence and big, walled buildings line the beautiful alleys that cross the area.

I skateboarded past a bar I knew should be nice for foreigners, called Maggie’s, but didn’t go in – it was closed. There was a park which looked nice, but it was too dark already, so I decided to head home. Nola, the hamburger restaurant I like around the corner invited me in for a drink and some American country. Although the bar staff didn’t get the concept of sitting at the bar and having a drink without an intention to eat or do anything else, it was still pretty pleasant, chill experience. Afterwards, I jumped back on the board and headed back home.


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